Default Header

New Legislation: Contest Designations

At the 2018 NAIA National Convention our membership voted on new legislation and now Legislative Services is going to break down some of the more substantial changes in our legislative briefs over the next few months! This is the fifth brief in the new legislation line and links to the previous briefs are below. This week we are going to talk about a more straightforward change that will go into effect this fall. Previously, schools were allowed to change how they considered a contest after the contest had occurred, e.g. a scrimmage to an exhibition. Now with this change, a contest designation will lock once the competition has commenced.

New Legislation Briefs:

Below is what was voted on at the convention in April. Please note that this is not how the bylaw will appear in the handbook when it is released in August.

Article I, Section F, Item 1.

  1.      The maximum number of varsity games, contests or playing dates an institution may schedule is listed below. The number of junior varsity or freshman games, contests or playing dates scheduled during the academic year cannot exceed the number of varsity games, contests or playing dates scheduled during that academic year. Further, no student may compete in a sport in an academic year in more than the number of games, contests or playing dates listed below (this includes varsity, junior varsity, freshman, etc.), excluding NAIA-approved postseason participation.

. . .

For a contest of any kind (i.e. scrimmage, exhibition, game/meet, etc.), once the contest has commenced the designation of the type of contest will be officially recorded as such, and the designation cannot be changed retroactively.


In the sports of baseball, cross country, golf, lacrosse, soccer, softball, swimming and diving, tennis, indoor track, outdoor track, volleyball and wrestling, an institution is allowed one exhibition competition per season. In the sport of competitive cheer and competitive dance, an institution is allowed one cheer exhibition competition and one dance exhibition competition per season.

The competition must meet the definition of an exhibition under Article V, Section B, item 6 of the NAIA bylaws. The exhibition competition will count as one varsity game, contest or playing date within the limits stated above.

Exhibition competition is not allowed in the sport of football.

For the sport of basketball, an institution is allowed one or more exhibition competitions per season so long as the total number of games, exhibitions and scrimmages does not exceed 32. For the sport of basketball, an exhibition competition will not count as a varsity game.


Key points of this legislation:

  • Effective August 1, 2018.
  • The contest can still be changed up until the start of the contest.
  • If a school does change the designation after the start of the contest then they would be in violation of this bylaw, and they will need to self-report.
  • If a non-NAIA school changes their designation after the fact, this will not make the NAIA school in violation.
  • NAIA and Non-NAIA schools can have different contest designations.
  • NAIA vs. NAIA will always be the same designation.
  • If a school designates a game as a scrimmage and then reports the scores (even if only through social media), thus moving it out of the definition of scrimmage, they would be in violation of Article V, Section B, Item 17.

Case Studies

*Assume all schools are NAIA institutions unless otherwise noted.

Scenario 1:

Royal University is scheduled to play Chiefs College (a non-NAIA school) in a baseball scrimmage on November 3. On November 3, a vicious storm rolls in and the game is postponed before the first pitch is thrown. The game is rescheduled for November 10, and in the meantime Royal U. decides to change the game to countable. Would this be allowed?

Answer 1:

YES. The game never started on November 3, and thus RU was still within their rights to change their designation of the game.

Scenario 2:

Imagine the same scenario as above, but this time the game is suspended in the third inning and is to be picked up and resumed on a later date. While the game is suspended, Royal decides to change the game to a countable competition. Would this be allowed?

Answer 2:

No. In this scenario the game has commenced and thus Royal U. can no longer change the designation.

Scenario 3:

Grand University is going to play a countable game against Kansas University, an NCAA school. Grand beats KU handedly and after the game, KU changes their designation of the game to an exhibition. Does this mean Grand would now be in violation of this bylaw?

Answer 3:

No. Grand is the NAIA school and did not change the designation, thus they are not in violation.

Scenario 4:

Boulevard Institute has a scheduled their third scrimmage of the spring with a local club soccer team, maxing out their frequency of play limits for the entire season. One of Boulevard’s athletes scores five goals, a new school record. The twitter account for Boulevard’s athletic department tweets out the accomplishment along with the final score of the game. This game would now no longer meet the definition of scrimmage, thus changing the designation after the fact. What bylaws has Boulevard violated with this tweet?

Answer 4:

The following bylaws would be violated: Article V, Section B, Item 17, (definition of scrimmage); and Article 1, Section F, Item 1, (frequency of play limits). This tweet would take the game out of the definition of scrimmage meaning it would have to be either an exhibition or countable contest. If Boulevard already maxed out their schedule, then they would be in violation for exceeding the frequency of play limits.

Please join us at noon central on Tuesday for Facebook live, where Legislative Services will discuss this topic in more detail.